Although the Northwest College women finished 15-17 last season, they finished with some of their best basketball of the season.
And the players returning – a crowd of nine – feel like grown-ups who have seen it all now.
“I think it will help us start out stronger,” forward Kira Marlow said. “I think we have high expectations.”
Coach Janis Beal does. It is fairly rare in a two-year program to have so many experienced players back together.
“I think they saw a glimpse of what they can be,” Beal said.
The Lady Trappers return their top five scorers in Marlow, 10 points a game, Dallas Petties, 9.2, Dani McManamen, 7.8, Julynne Silva, 6.9, and Domenica Gomes, 6.1.
Mattie Creager, Alexi Payne and Charri McArthur also saw substantial playing time.
Northwest upset Casper in the playoffs last March and played champ Western Nebraska very tough. It was as if all the mistakes in ball handling conveniently evaporated at the same time.
“We can build on how we finished the year,” Beal said.
Marlow said in pre-season practice the returning players have often harkened back to their excellent game against Casper as a kind of rallying cry.
“We refer back to it all the time,” she said. “It’s addictive that winning feeling. We really want to take regionals.”
There is no underestimating the value of being teammates for an entire season, McManamen said.
“We all got to know one another last year,” she said. “We can get going faster. In a way we have gone through everything.”
Silva, a 6-foot-4 center, and Gomes, a guard, are from Brazil. Silva believes the team will be much more effective on offense with a season’s worth of learning Beal’s plays.
“We know how it is,” Silva said.
That includes winter weather in Wyoming compared to her home. Silva’s mother is frightened by the sight of snow near her daughter. Silva didn’t love it, but she endured it.
“I was complaining all winter,” she said. “My mother kept saying, ‘You can go home at any time.’”
Silva is still in Powell instead of staying in Barcarena.
Gomes, 21, said there was not really anywhere easy for her to work out in Sao Paulo as a woman’s player during time off from school, so over the summer she practiced with a men’s team for a month.
Gomes, who is the playmaker, believes the Trappers will be more together, feed off their playing experience, and display growth in their individual and team games.”
“I know what I need to do,” she said. “I know what I have to give to my teammates. If we play ‘Not just me, but we,’ we can beat anybody.”